Dracula: The First Modern Vampire


Stories of blood-sucking monsters are universal
and have been around for centuries. There’s the Greek lamiae, the Chinese jiangshi,
the African asanbosam, and the Australian yah-mah-ya-who to name a few. But let’s focus on the one who has outlived
them all, whose monstrous legend lives among us even today—Count Dracula. The stories of blood-sucking monsters constantly
shifts to reflect the culture and issues of its time. For instance, there are real-life diseases
with symptoms similar to the traits found in some vampires: sensitivity to light, a
sudden decline in health, even the desire to bite other people. So, before we understood concepts like viruses
and germs, creating a fictional explanation makes a lot of sense. Also, if you look at the sharp teeth and long
fingernails of the typical western vampire, and how they use these to attack their prey,
the vampire becomes a metaphor for a human’s capacity for great violence. Vampires often appear humanoid and primarily
attack humans, so associating their violent attacks with the violence we see in the real
world is easy—because both predator and prey look like us. We can find this monster in folklore, legends,
and literature long before the word “vampire” appears for the first time in English around
1730. However, it wasn’t until the Irish author
Abraham ‘Bram’ Stoker wrote his 1897 novel Dracula, that the characteristics of this
creature became widely recognizable in the modern world. Stoker actually started outlining the novel
in 1890, years before he even encountered the name ‘Dracula.’ We know this because he wrote notes, a lot
of notes. Emily Gerard’s book of Transylvanian superstitions
The land beyond the forest and Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Were-Wolves were
two books which clearly inspired him. He clipped newspaper articles, recorded tombstone
inscriptions, and transcribed ship captain’s logbooks to make his narrative more realistic. He was also influenced by Victorian theatre,
including his friend and employer – the actor Henry Irving. Stoker’s original list of characters shows
the famous vampire was first only known as the “Count.” It is most likely that he read the name “Dracula”
for the first time in William Wilkinson’s book An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia
and Moldavia while on vacation with his family, after he had already started writing the story. In tradition with a lot of Gothic literature,
Dracula is a member of the aristocracy, which also explains the dramatic castle setting,
and the Count’s great wealth of “old gold.” In his memos, Stoker combined many existing
literary and folklore traits that we now see as typical vampire characteristics: no reflection
in mirrors, never eats or drinks, has enormous strength, and the ability to see in the dark. It was already accepted that vampires could
turn others into the undead, have large canine teeth and pointed nails, and be vulnerable
to garlic and wooden stakes. But Count Dracula was the first vampire to
have all of these traits. And influenced by werewolf legends, Stoker
gives Dracula the ability to shapeshift into a bat, a wolf, or mist, a first for vampires! Seven years of making vampire notes paid off,
and when the book was finally published, it was a critical and popular success. The 1922 movie Nosferatu, which tells the
Dracula story with a few names changes, was not authorized by Stoker and came dangerously
close to copyright infringement. Stoker’s widow even tried to have the film
removed from public circulation. The controversy surrounding the film increased
the popularity of both the book and the Count himself. The prevelance of Dracula movies in the 40’s,
inspired a 16-year-old Richard Matheson, to contemplate his own version of a vampire tale:
he wondered quote “if one vampire was scary, a world filled with vampires would be really
scary.” Matheson published I am Legend, in 1954, telling
the story of the only apparent human survivor in New York City after a vampire plague infects
the population. Matheson’s vampires becomes monsters not
from a bite or curse, but because of the Vampiris virus. This is one of the first times the metaphor
of vampirism as a disease is explicitly stated. Urbanism, immigration, sexual transmitted
disease, politics, corporate greed, capitalism, racism, sexism, the fetishization of youth—
these are only a few of the things vampires have represented. In 1975, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot modernizes
Stoker’s original story. King admits he was inspired by Dracula, as
well as the divisive political atmosphere at that time in the United States that in
King’s own words gave him a quote “fear of the future.” Fun fact: thanks to the window-scratching
scene in the tv-movie version of Salem’s Lot, the first monsters I remember being really
scared of were vampires. Which, given that I am now an expert in the
undead, is so perfectly ironic I could die. And then reanimate. It wouldn’t be a post-Dracula vampire episode
if I didn’t mention the two names that made the modern vampire “sexy”…Anne Rice’s
Vampire Chronicles and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. In 1976, the publication of Interview with
a Vampire introduced the world to the beautiful, soulful Louis, whose cold dead heart is still
capable of love and regret. Rice gave us the first reluctant vampires
in literature, those who were more concerned with self-identity and morality than any previously
portrayed. Then in 2003, we were given the brooding,
abstinent, “vegetarian” Edward Cullen in Twilight. Meyer makes turning someone into a vampire
the most romantic thing you can do because it ensures you and your true love will be
together forever. Also, vampires now sparkle. Thanks for that. Other vampire stories reframe the undead monster
in exciting ways. Jewelle Gomez’s The Gilda Stories features
a black, feminist vampire heroine who uses her undead life to explore her education and
her sexuality while helping to create progressive change in society. Octavia Butler’s Fledgling features vampires
who actually engage in symbiotic relationships with those they feed from. The narrative addresses themes of polyamory,
intimacy, race, and genetic experimentation through the eyes of a black female protagonist. In contrast, Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain
trilogy gives us parasitic worms who inhabit living human bodies, and whose failure to
value human life makes them monstrous even without their need for human blood. Even though all modern vampire stories have
their roots in Stoker’s original Dracula, each one is unique in its interpretation. As times change, so do vampires. The vampire reflects the culture and time
of its creation. I wonder what form they’ll take next?

100 Replies to “Dracula: The First Modern Vampire

  1. please do a video on djinn‘s! I‘m from turkey and find them so creepy. We always say that their feet point in the opposite direction cause they‘re a creature from hell! (sorry for my bad english)

  2. Definitely my favorite is Dracula, but I really like to see a video of the older myths in China or the Mayan or the Egyptians. (Love the channel, excellent work Doctor)

  3. I love your videos do you think you could do a video on the kappa the frog like sometimes hostile creatures of japan and if you can gibe me a shout out I would like to start my own chanel

  4. I am partial to Interview with the Vampire, I love the film! Thank you for mentioning Eli from Let the right one in, still haven't seen any of the film adaptations but the book was very good (I'm Swedish and grew up not far from where the book is set). I really liked Lindqvist's modern interpretation of what it means to be a vampire (and undead in general)!

  5. WRONG !!!! The first use of the word vampire was in 968 AD. Bran Stroker was inspired by a cemetery close to his home in London, called Highgate cemetery.

  6. I love studying of the mysteries of the world and I really support this channel so I really think you should do one on the shadow peoples

  7. *Monstrum*: Dracula: The First Modern Vampire.

    *Carmilla*: What the hell?! You think I was just stalking that dumb chick Laura for fun?

  8. The (C)RPG Vampire: The Masquerade also had a great impact on the modern understanding of vampires. They've incorporated many different types of vampires, splitting them into clans with different abilities and relationships with the living

  9. 03:37 She didn't try. She succeeded. 05:90 No. The first "reluctant" vampire in English literature would be Sir Francis Varney from VARNEY THE VAMPYRE. I would argue the same could be said of the title character in CARMILLA, but that is much less explicit. 07:05 We have the same faves. In fact I edited THE ANNOTATED CARMILLA and wrote a one act adaptation of Le Fanu's classic for the stage.

  10. Drako, did i spell that right? Latin for devil.
    So just what does Dracula mean ?
    My understanding is you put a clove of garlic under his tongue to
    Break the spell, its an animation spell, given the hypodermic teeth of a snake and hypnotic eyes to hold his prey , he is a son of satan himself.
    Also of Lilith the mother of all
    Creatures of the night .

  11. Dracula, Lestat, Blacula (William Marshall: In Memoriam), The Lost Boys, Jerry Dandridge (Fright Night), Kindred: The Embraced (Vampire: The Masquerade), Morbius (From Spider-Man), Vamperotica, Angel (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Blade (Self Explanatory), etc.

    The list goes on.

  12. What about the Vampire roleplaying games of the 90's? White Wolf's version of vampires with clans and hidden politics, a war against werewolves, etc, is where Stephanie Meyer got her ideas (same for movies like Underworld, or series like True Blood.) Yeah, White wolf got its ideas from Stoker and Anne Rice, etc… but WW came way BEFORE Stephanie Meyer, but never get credit.

  13. I've been brooding on my own vampire story since I was a teenager, but I've yet to render it into words to my satisfaction. In my story. the vampirism is — and is a metaphor for — a disability. My vampire has no occult or supernatural powers, but he lets those around him believe he does… Because if people believe ordinary weapons are useless against him, they won't use ordinary weapons against him. And if they believe sewing a charmed thread into the collars of their shirts will keep him at bay, they will feel safe and not threatened by him (by his own choice, he gets the blood he needs by hunting rats in the city — no one notices missing rats they way they'd notice if he hunted people). However — If people find out that he's mortal, and with a rare condition they don't understand, then he's liable to be imprisoned in a hospital, and subjected to an endless string of experiments in an attempt to "cure" him.

    (I, myself, was born with a physical disability… and it wasn't until my last attempt to write this story that I realized the character is an autobiographical projection)

  14. there are many legends to tell yet because they don't continue their channel is very good here are some suggestions the charro black baba yaga the silbon the holy company the banshee the nahual the ironed the cegua kushisake ona

  15. While I'm not a fan of Twilight or the Anne Rice stories, vampires as more traditionally portrayed are probably my favorite monsters.

  16. Dracula isn't just the "first modern Vampire". He's the Vampire that set the standard for ALL future Vampires to follow. But you know when I think his lore changed forever? When Gary Oldman took up the baton and portrayed the character in Francis Ford Copola's version. That was the first film that officially linked the historical Dracula, Vlad Tepes, to the Dracula lore in my eyes, and it caused the two figures to become permanently interconnected. And Gary Oldman's portrayal is part of a three-way tie for Number 2 in my Top Ten Incarnations Of Dracula (this list includes films, TV series, novels, and video games), along with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers from NBC's Dracula, and Luke Evans from Dracula Untold, a film that does NOT get the credit that it deserves from the critics!

  17. My favorites depend on the type of vampire themes they are going for, sympathetic, scary, humorous. If I had to be pressed to say one specifically, Louis from Interview with the Vampire

  18. The first monster that actually scared, me as a kid, was count Drac himself. The next one to scare me was Salem's Lot. Sadly, it has been a long time since I saw or read a Vampire story that scared me, at all.
    they are rarely scary. Vamps become something you could happily fantasize becoming. young, forever beautiful dressed in fetish wear, with super powers. The idea of losing one's soul just does not have the fear impact it once had.
    I greatly enjoyed Interview With a Vampire and the Vampire Lestat but the series got to noisy and bright with public warfare between vampires and vampires suddenly exploding into flame.
    Even the original Count Dracula did not scare me as much as his wives did. 🙂 let the right one in was unique and worth more than one viewing.

  19. My favorite monster was Maria Labo(Slash Maria) not a vampire but closer to it ,an Aswang which is the monsters of monsters in the Philippines mythology .
    p.s. Pls make an episode about it.

  20. Only a slight correction concerning Richard Mathesons novel: I am Legend ( first published in 1955). The setting was not New York City but Los Angeles; circa 1976. The story was unique in that it took a scientific approach to the matter of the vampire; the cause itself being a bacterium. What made the plot even more interesting is that our anti-hero; John Neville, was not a scientist by trade(as misreported in every film adaption), but a civil engineer who educated himself to combat this disease. A very good read on the count is The Annotated Dracula(original copyright, 1975) that researched every aspect of the story into the ground. Also there's the book: In Search of Dracula(copyright, 1976), which began my longtime interest in both the myth and Vlad Tepes; the true life ruler of Wallachia in the mid 1400's; who even today is considered a national hero by many Romanians. Thank you, Monstrum for helping me revisit my passions.

  21. I am not a fan of Twi-pires… You really could have mentioned far more to what Anne Rice was doing, the movies don't do justice to all the elements of course but not mentioning Akasha at least would segue nicely into later subject matter. There is so much stuff you really could do a series of videos just pointing at examples in popular media… Anime and Cinema alone… countless Series… One could really "feed" on this subject for a while.

  22. It wasn't that long ago where I decided to write my own Vampire Novel. I was inspired by Vampire Hunter D, Dracula, Priest, Blade Runner, Bloodborne, Necroscope, Vampire the Masquerade, nightmares I had as a child, and Legacy of Kain. In my story I decided to make Vampires and other monsters evil again. I call it giving all the monsters I grew up on an upgrade. Think about it this way if Dracula was Vampires 1.0 than this story I'm writing are Vampires 2.0. They are cruel, depraved, sadistic predators and they will definitely show their viciousness and depravity. There is no bottom of the barrel with these vampires.

  23. You guys should do something on cthulu & other lovcraftian creatures since many have heard of cthulu but know almost nothing about the original work.

  24. I love Monstrum and maybe one day this and #BecauseScience can be paired into a weekly 1 hour long program. I'm all eyes and ears 👀👂 xo J

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